The top of French chain of luxury warehouses Galeries Lafayette has been surprisingly reshuffled: after ten years of loyal service current CEO Paul Delaoutre has to make way for Nicolas Houzé, son of the chairman and member of the founding family.
Reckoning at the highest level?
That Nicolas Houzé (38) gets the seat of CEO comes as no surprise: he has been deputy director since 2012 of the branch “Grands Magasins” of Groupe Galeries Lafayette. The speed and especially the way the departure of Delaoutre was handled (from one day to the next, and with a simple diktat), do raise a few eyebrows in Paris: sales of the company rose by one third during the reign of Delaoutre, despite critics who thought the concept of luxury warehouses to be dead and buried.
According to the French media chairman Phillippe Houzé and especially his mother-in-law Ginette Moulin (heir of founder Théophile Bader) were quite displeased with the sale of Monoprix to Casino, especially as Lafayette probably will not be getting hold of its competitor Le Printemps. That company will probably fall in to the hands of a state fund from Qatar, which supposedly also made an offer on Marks & Spencer. The duo is looking at Delaoutre to take the fall.
All power with the family
Whatever of it, father and son Houzé now have total control of the Groupe Galeries Lafayette. The new CEO got his MBA at the prestigious Insead Business School in Fontainebleau and started his career with A.T. Kearney and Deutsche Bank, before taking a job at Monoprix in 1998.
There he launched Monop’ in 2003, a chain of smaller neighbourhood shops where customers can get a bite to eat and something to drink. Three years later Houzé became junior chairman of Louis Pion-Royal Quartz, the wristwatch branch of the group. In January of last year he became deputy director of “Grands Magazins”, more than ever the most important branch of Groupe Galeries Lafayette.